Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ideas for Sharing All Those Great Student Projects!

When I speak with other educators I work with about using the iPod or iPad in school, I frequently am asked the question of how my students share, turn-in, or publish the many projects they create. What’s the point of creating a comic book on Ancient China if it sits in that student’s iPod? Or what do you do with a video they made? Well there are a few different ways I’ve done this, and they all have a place in the day-to-day management of my classroom.


  • Evernote is used a lot by both my students and me. I can send handouts to an Evernote notebook, websites I want students to access in class or at home, images, and notes. Likewise, my students can do the same. I can create a PDF for them to open and read in GoodReader where they can annotate and then send back to Evernote for my eyes. I create a notebook for each of my 33 students. If the whole class is using Evernote to turn in an assignment such as a simple vocabulary or word study activity, then I may have all students turn in their work to a notebook title ‘Word Study’ just to make it easier for me to assess. Another way I’ve used Evernote is for student reflections as part of an ePortfolio. Once a month or quarterly, you could have each student attach their favorite project to their Evernote folder and then record their reflections of that assignment right there in that same Evernote 'note'. Simple and easy for students to complete from the iPod or iPad and easy for the teacher to view and listen to their student's recording.

  • Dropbox is another cloud storage system that I find invaluable. Many apps we use link to Dropbox, Evernote, or sometimes both. I can create an ePub from the Creative Book Builder app or Pages (on my Mac) and upload it to the class Dropbox account. From there, the students are able to retrieve the file and open it in iBooks. Now that document has become an interactive ebook where I can have students highlight (love the different colors available!), write notes, or look up unfamiliar words in the embedded dictionary. The great thing about this is that those videos and links in the ebook are all active for the students too. Imagine how you can use this feature in class! Your students can easily create an eBook for any subject area right on their iPod or iPad by using the Creative Book Builder app too. Videos they’ve created using the Explain Everything app can be embedded as can images, text, and audio! It truly is a great app! Dropbox can also be used for PDFs, WordDocs, pictures, and video as well. There are so many uses for these two apps.

  • A Posterous class blog is an easy way to publish or share student created projects right from the iPod or iPad. The student simply emails their post to the class website. Included in the post can be a video, image, or even an audio reflection. There is a limit to the size of the video though but rarely has this been an issue. Longer movies can simply be uploaded from a desktop computer after transferring the video from the iPad to the computer.

I-nigma QR code reader
  • After a project has been posted to the class site, a QR code can be created to make sharing even easier. One of my favorite things to do with this is to attach a QR code to the student’s rough draft or work notebook. This way parents can see the progression from planning stages of a project all the way to the published creation.

  • Another way we’ve shared created content is with the Aurasma app. If you haven’t seen this app, please check it out. It’s an augmented reality app that is very simple to use. Students can overlay a video or image over a target and share out that way. For example, after my students wrote I AM poems for a science concept, they omitted the line that states what ‘I am’ is and instead found an image or created a short video clip of the subject and made an overlay with it. The student made their printed poem the target. You can share the link for the ‘Happening’ (what Aurasma calls the aura) via email or, if you don’t have student email, then a QR code can be created from the link. Open the link on a device that has Aurasma loaded and you’ve just shared your project.

  • Igobubble may be even easier to use than Aurasma and a new app in my collection. I’ve only tested it out a bit, but the idea is that you create ‘bubbles’. Inside these bubbles you can insert an image, video, or text. Once you release your bubble, anyone nearby will be able to catch it and put it in his or her ‘bag of bubbles’. Once that is done, you can view the contents, comment on the contents, and then release for someone else to view! I love the concept and plan on having my students test it out this September after we make our All About Me videos. I also think my students will find this app very cool and a fun way to share all sorts of stuff in class! 

TouchApp Creator
  • Another new tool to use for enabling the students to share their work is with TouchApp Creator. This app allows students to create web apps that can be uploaded to Dropbox or to an FTP sever. It will also automatically provide the URL, shorten URL, and a QR code for the web app after publishing. It's very easy to add or delete content to an existing web app. Any image or video in the photo app can be embedded, along with text, links, etc. A student could create any number of web apps and pages. Again, lots of possibilities for using this new app!  

Of course, online etiquette is something I am always teaching and reinforcing throughout the year. Good commenting skills is one of the first skills I focus on and really monitor thoroughly. I'd love to hear your ideas for publishing student work created on the iPod or iPad. I haven't yet introduced Twitter to my students but have plans to do so this school year. If you use Twitter I'd like to hear how you manage the account. Do you have one class account or do your students have their own? I'm looking forward to using this wonderful tool to share student work with other classes!


    21st Century Teaching with iPods and iPads=Academic Success

    Low test scores. Program Improvement school. High percentage of English Language learners. Low parent involvement.  

    Engagement. Collaboration. Access to instant information via an iPod touch or iPad. Social Networking via Edmodo creates 24/7 learning. Trusting relationships among teacher and students.  Project Based Learning. Activities using higher level thinking skills throughout all content areas. Personalized learning. Self-directed learners. Digital citizens. Creating and reflecting. Blogs. 'Flipped' teaching. Challenged learners.

    This describes my class over the last two years. Having been asked by my principal if I'd like a cart of iPod touch devices for my class of 33 diverse learners to pilot a program, aptly named iEngage, to improve reading fluency and therefore improve student comprehension was a challenge I was totally ready to do. Scary? Yes! I knew I’d be diverting from the ‘standard’ way of doing things in my class but was ready to dive head first into new and innovative ways to reach today’s learners. Literally one week after using the iPods to record fluency reading, I began looking for ways to use it throughout the school day. I had students staying in at recess to play math apps, spelling apps, or to re-record their fluency!

    With full support from my principal, assessments were given and data collected on the 33 students in my class. Six months later we assessed again. Results? Enormous growth among all learners. I knew we’d see growth among my struggling readers but what I didn’t expect to see was the huge gains in my high achieving students! There was no end to their learning—the instant access to information and apps that would allow them to create, share, and reflect enabled these students to work to their highest abilities. It was exciting to see. I became a true facilitator in the classroom and my students became self-directed, motivated learners who came to the classroom excited to learn each day. As one student shared, “I like coming to school because there is always something new that Mrs. Thomsen will have for us!”

    After 18 months of embedding this technology into every content area of our curriculum, the growth measured by our state’s standardized test is amazing. (However we may feel about standardized tests, the unfortunate reality is that test results are being looked at and conclusions are made about a teacher's and his or her program's effectiveness.) The good news for my school is that all of my students continued to make growth and all are considered either proficient or advanced. Even more important in my opinion though, are the life skills that this program helped develop in my students as witnessed by the numerous educators, including State Superintendent Torlakson, who visited my classroom over these past several months. Skills not tested on the standardized tests we must administer each year. For example, students who are able to speak clearly and use eye contact with a visitor, hearing a student patiently peer coach another student, observing a classroom full with students all actively engaged in collaborating and creating together. Students able to pull information from a number of reliable resources and synthesize this information to create an original project that could be shared and commented on by students and teachers in other classrooms around the world.

    I don't credit the iPod for my students' success. I believe it's the relationship among members of the classroom-the confidence to take risks and make mistakes with each other that allows for such learning to take place. I had to take on risks and let my students see my mistakes and know that I was no longer the only "expert" in the classroom! No, I credit the iPod and iPad for being the tool that provides teachers the ability to create classrooms where every student is heard every time. Using the device as a response tool with, replying and posting to a group in Edmodo, posting reflections on their blog, all engages each student and allows their voice to be heard beyond the walls of our classroom. Personalizing each student’s learning content becomes easier too with screen casting apps and Edmodo.

    18 months later and it’s time to say goodbye to this group of special students and welcome another new class at a new school. I will implement the iEngage program with a group of students who have not had this technology in class, and I'm looking forward to seeing the same amazing results. This time around I’m going to write about the little successes along the way as well as the bumps we encounter.  I welcome your advice, ideas, and stories so please share! Just like my students, I want to continue to grow and improve in my own journey~as an educator.